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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

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UYGUR: President Obama came out swinging this weekend, as you just saw, on Social Security. But in spite of his insistence that the 75-year-old program is here to stay, panic mode has set in about its alleged insolvency.

The Deficit Commission will likely recommend cuts to Social Security. And Republicans like House Minority Leader John Boehner and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence are talking about raising the retirement age. Other Republicans are still on the privatization bandwagon.

But the so-called financial problem of Social Security is one big giant lie. Let me prove it to you.

Did you know that Social Security actually has a $2.5 trillion surplus right now? How come nobody ever talks about that? It will pay out 100 percent of benefits with zero problems until 2037.

Does that sound like something we should panic over now? And critics claim that, well, it goes insolvent 27 years from now. That"s also not true at all.

Social Security can still pay 78 percent of its benefits indefinitely after that. That"s a small problem, not the bankruptcy of the system that they"re peddling.

So why are they pushing this lie? Because they already spent the $2.5 trillion on tax cuts for the rich and endless wars. You put your money into that retirement fund, but now they don"t want to pay you because they already spent your money which they weren"t supposed to touch.

Look, let me tell you this in no uncertain terms. They"re coming for your Social Security. Don"t let them do that under any circumstance, whether it"s the Republicans who always wanted to kill it or President Obama"s Deficit Commission. They"re both lying. Don"t believe the hype.

Now, for more, let me bring in DCC Chairman Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Congressman, you guys are putting together a new campaign highlighting how the Democrats protect Social Security, but apparently the American people are not quite buying it. We"ve got a poll here says that only 30 percent of the country believe the Democrats stand up for Social Security, 26 percent say that Republican do, they do a better job with Social Security.
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How in the world is this t that close?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, that"s a very good question. That"s why it"s important that the president is talking about it and that"s why we"re going to keep talking about this issue, because the fact of the matter is the Republican Leader in the House, John Boehner, the guy who wants to become the next speaker of the House, was a strong advocate for the Bush plan to privatize Social Security. That"s what he stands for.

Their point person on the Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, has put together the so-called roadmap plan which would privatize Social Security along with Medicare. And what these guys essentially want to do is hand over a good chunk of people"s retirement savings and give it to Wall Street.

I might add that John Boehner, the Republican Leader, wants to repeal the recently passed Wall Street reform bill. So they want to repeal the Wall Street reform bill which is designed to rein in Wall Street, and then they at the same time want to hand more of our seniors" retirement money and our future retirement money over to Wall Street so they can gamble with it as we saw in the financial meltdown.

That"s irresponsible. And we need to get the word out, because that is what they plan to do, just read their own roadmap.

UYGUR: I understand that, Congressman, but what I noticed from President Obama and from what you just said is that you guys are arguing against privatization, which I get it. That makes sense. But you"re not saying you won"t cut Social Security. And I"m afraid the reason for that is because that Obama Deficit Commission is going to come in and they"re going to say cut Social Security.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, the Democratic Caucus was very clear. We had a big gathering on the side of the Capitol just before we left to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Social Security. And it was very clear that the Democrats do not support cuts to Social Security. That is the position of the Democratic Caucus. So --

UYGUR: All right. Let me get you on the record then.

VAN HOLLEN: -- the American people--yes?

UYGUR: Let me get you on the record then. If the Deficit Commission comes out and says cut Social Security or raise the retirement age, will you fight against it and say it"s dead on arrival?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, look, here"s the issue with the retirement--the commission, right? They"re going to come up with recommendations across the board. I mean, Social Security, Medicare, tax policy.
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I certainly would oppose the provisions that we"re talking about if they were to cut Social Security. The question is going to be the package as a whole. And anybody I think has to say we"ll wait and see what the package as a whole says.

But I oppose cutting Social Security benefits. I want to be very clear about that.

And the fact of the matter is the Republicans not only want to cut Social Security, but they do want to privatize it. And the privatization component is a very important argument, because they have a clear motivation for doing it, which is that all the financial interests on Wall Street, the same guys who clapped when John Boehner said he was going to repeal the Wall Street reform bill, stand to make hundreds of billions of dollars through Social Security privatization.

And it"s coupled with their proposal to privatize Medicare. And that"s just not a statement they"ve made. They actually voted. The Republicans in the House voted last year on a plan to both cut Medicare by 75 percent over a period of time, and turn it into a voucher program, so you, a senior citizen, gets your voucher, it diminishes in value, and you"ve got to go out on the private insurance market and find a policy in contrast to today"s policies where Medicare guarantees your treatment.

So both on Medicare and Social Security they want to privatize.

UYGUR: But Congressman, I know exactly where the Republicans stand, but I wasn"t clear on where you--I didn"t get that pledge out of you. That"s what I noticed. I"ll be honest with you.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, you know what?

UYGUR: So we"ll see what happens when they actually bring the bill.

VAN HOLLEN: No, wait. No, you"re asking for a pledge on something that goes way beyond. The vote is not going to just be on Social Security. If there is a vote at all, it"s going to be on a big, big package. And--

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR: The problem is you guys already spent the $2.5 trillion. There"s no reason to touch Social Security at all. It has a surplus. It has a surplus.
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VAN HOLLEN: And I agree with you. And I agree with you on that.

That"s right.

UYGUR: OK. Well, I hope that is--

VAN HOLLEN: But there"s a debt commission that"s looking at a much broader area. I hope you wouldn"t say what you were going to do --

UYGUR: I hope that is shown in the votes. I hope your agreement is shown in the votes.

VAN HOLLEN: I hope you wouldn"t" say what you"re going to do on something you haven"t even seen yet.

UYGUR: OK. All right. Let"s see what happens. I thought we elected a Democratic president. Let"s see what happens.

All right. Congressman Van Hollen, thank you for joining us. We appreciates it.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

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